In this month’s issue of Beyond the Classroom, we are proud to present to you, Kuan Fung – Founder of Lulele Learning Space. Kuan Fung wanted to devote herself to contributing to the education scene for the younger generation to learn the Chinese language and to redesign the learning experience for the children.

1. Describe yourself and what you do?

Having been working in the media industry in Taiwan and Singapore for the past 24 years, I woke up one day and made a call on a long-struggled decision that I wanted to make a change. A change that I could have more control in devoting myself to contributing to the education scene of our younger generation towards the learning of their mother tongue. And hence a learning space of fun and love was born in late 2017 with a team of like-minded friends. In Lulele Learning Space, we plan, create and deliver a unique learning journey of the Chinese language. Yes, in a more uptrend and sexy term, we ‘design the learning experience’ of Chinese language for children.

2. Is there a story behind WHY you do what you do?/ To what extent have your talents/passions led you in any way to do what you do today?

I have a deep affection for the Chinese Language world – in culture, literature, linguistics, and the extension of it into pop culture, creative industries and more. In the course of my work in the media industry, I have met too many (Chinese) children who would tell me they hate (to learn) the Chinese language. It is unfortunate to see them struggling with their mother tongue. I want to help. I feel I can contribute to the solutions, to ease the pain in learning the language.

3. Share with us what you were like as a student and how school was like for you. In retrospect, how do you think that played a part in what you do now and who you have become?

It is quite organic for me to pick up the Chinese Language. I grew up in a Mandarin-speaking family with a father who reads a lot from philosophy, history, literature to political science etc, all in Chinese. It was the family that shaped me into who I am today.

With piles of old yellowish-paper books printed in China at home, I started to discover the beauty and colourful world of Chinese literature. When I had a chance to make a choice in literature subject during my last 2 years of Secondary school education, I chose Chinese Literature without hesitation. I was so fascinated by it that I immersed myself in Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦) when everyone else was digging their heads into preparing for G.C.E. O Level exams.

I am lucky enough to be able to work in the media industry where I can ‘play creatively and wildly’ with the language. All these years in Chinese media, I feel so benefiting with the language capability that I built across the years.

4. How do you reinvent yourself? What motivates you?

It is never an easy journey when you change the path in your mid-life which is a stage that always tags along with ‘crisis’. It may look easy with passions, but when I am in it, I realize and feel the lack of professionalism in the field. Especially in the field of education, we are talking about sculpturing and influencing young minds, brains and hearts. My belief is to keep moving forward, no matter what obstacles lie ahead. Every time a child leaves Lulele Learning Space with a smiling face and say 再见 (see you again), I know I am on the right path.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received or given? Or Share ONE life lesson and how it changed the way you approached life.

Just do it. LOL. I am not a fan of the sports brand Nike but this truly is what keeps me going on. You never try, you never know. And, never be afraid of failures. But of course, never bet with all of your life (全副身家). I am very fortunate to have support from my family and friends to be able to ‘just do whatever I feel is right to do’. I am a strong believer of life is too short to carry fears around but I am not too daring a gambler too. Always observe mindfully, think carefully, and choose wisely. Once decided, make a full force to go for it.

6. The future-ready educator should…

Many would think a future-ready educator should be equipped with future-ready mindsets and skillsets. But in my view, an educator should always have a contributing heart and soul in nurturing, patience in holding little hands along the way, and strong will in leading by examples. Time will change, but hearts will never change.

7. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? /Share an example of a life that you impacted

Children who are considered of average and above standard in the Chinese language are unable to speak a simple proper complete sentence in Mandarin. It is heartening to see them making great effort in expressing themselves in Mandarin. Yet, it is saddening to hear them struggling through composing words and forming sentences, just to express a simple thought.

8. How do you hope your business might do its part to transform or add value to the educational scene in Singapore?

I hope Lulele Learning Space will bring across different ways and mindsets in (Chinese) language learning. We learn a language to communicate, to understand culture and values be it our own or others, and to make the world a better place. A language is just a tool for wisdom. It is difficult to change the big environment. But if I don’t start seeding, I will never see a tree.